Eastern goes 1-2 against Eastern Kentucky

Dillan Schorfheide, Assistant Sports Editor

Head coach Jason Anderson has been critical of his team’s ability to hit with runners in scoring in position this season, but his team stepped up with some clutch hitting Saturday.

Tyler Tesmond walks back to the Eastern dugout after striking out looking during Eastern’s 9-8 loss to Southern Illinois Tuesday at Coaches Stadium.
JJ Bullock
Tyler Tesmond walks back to the Eastern dugout after striking out looking during Eastern’s 9-8 loss to Southern Illinois Tuesday at Coaches Stadium.

The Eastern baseball team’s head coach was able to watch his team score two runs in the ninth inning to close out a three-game home conference series with a win, after dropping the first two games.

Eastern (17-19, 9-9) defeated Eastern Kentucky (22-15, 9-6) 10-9 in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday, after losing the first game Friday 4-3 and losing the first game Saturday 7-3.

The most recent criticism from Anderson, of his team leaving runners stranded, came after Tuesday’s 9-8 home loss to Southern Illinois.

Eastern left 10 runners on base in Tuesday’s contest, leading Anderson to say that if his team wanted to win games, somebody needs to step up and hit the ball.

Saturday, Keith Kerrigan and Trey Sweeney stepped up in the bottom of the ninth inning to bring in a run each, with Sweeney hitting the walk off single.

“Our guys showed a tremendous amount of heart to be down 7 and on the brink of a sweep,” Anderson said. “They managed to chip away on offense while the bullpengave us a chance to come back.”

Throughout this season, Eastern has been susceptible to giving up big scoring runs to opponents, especially in the middle innings.

Typically, the Panthers struggled to score enough after the runs to come back for the win.

In Saturday’s win, Eastern Kentucky led 3-2 after the third second inning before stacking on to its lead.

The Colonels’ big inning came in the third, where they scored four runs to go up 7-2.

Both teams were scoreless until the sixth inning, when Eastern Kentucky’s leadoff hitter, Will Johnson, hit a home run to center field.

The Colonels also added its ninth and final run in the seventh inning, seemingly burying Eastern with just three opportunities left for the Panthers to come back.

But, Eastern’s own big inning was in the bottom half of that seventh inning.

Grant Emme, who went 1-for-1 with 3 RBIs and two walks, got his first two RBIs in the seventh and started the scoring for Eastern, singling up the middle to score Matt Waznis and Sweeney.

Hunter Morris batted next, striking out swinging on a wild pitch, which allowed him to reach first base and Jimmy Govern to score.

Emme then scored on another wild pitch, making the score 9-6 still in Eastern Kentucky’s favor.

Ryan Knernschield stepped up to the plate two batters later, doubling down the right field line and bringing Morris in as the fifth and final run in the inning.

The Panthers chipped away at the Colonels’ two-run lead again in the eighth inning, as Emme hit a sacrifice fly to right field, bringing in Sweeney for his third RBI.

Eastern trailed 9-8 at that point.

Then, in the ninth, Kerrigan singled to bring in Tyler Tesmond. Kerrigan advanced to second base on the throw in from the outfield, advancing further to third base on the same play due to a fielding error.

That set up Sweeney’s single through the left side of the infield for the walk off victory.

“It was one of the most impressive comebacks I have seen at EIU.”

Eastern left seven batters on base in the win which, though it was more than Eastern Kentucky’s five, is a better number for the Panthers than Tuesday’s game.

Foster Anshutz started the game, going 2.1 innings and giving up seven runs (three earned) on six hits, getting a no decision.

Blake Malatestinic (1-2) got his first win of the season in relief, pitching the final two innings while only giving up one hit, one walk and striking out three batters.

Eastern will play the final home game of a five-game home stand Tuesday, when the Panthers host Chicago State at 3 p.m.

Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]